Incidents by the Way
| Resources Relating to|
Monday, May, 29.—At sunrise I left home in the stage for the railroad. We had proceeded but a short distance up the Island, before the wind sprang up fresh, chilly from the East, accompanied by a rain which lasted most of the forenoon. But if the ride was dreary, it was also rapid, for at one o'clock we reached the Suffolk Station, a distance of 50 or 60 miles, although we stopped an hour or more at Riverhead for breakfast. We were under the necessity of waiting some lime for the cars, and obtained a very good dinner, in a shanty where you would have scarce thought of finding any thing comfortable.
At length the 'iron horse,' now refreshed by his feed and water, started off at Ground gallop, and in due time I found myself ascending the stairs at 140 Fulton street. It did not add to the delight of that day's dreary travel, to be told that you and the New York friends had departed for the Convention that morning.— However, I determined to overtake you, and proceeded directly on board the 'South America,' which left for Albany at 7 o'clock. Just before I reached the boat, I was accosted by a 'runner,' who wanted to sell me tickets to go any where and every where, and soon his employer, or associate, accidentally met us, and so benevolent were these officious gentlemen, that they were offended when I signified my determination of paying 'as I went along,' rather than avail myself of their kind offices, whereby I might save $1,50. That they would have willingly relieved me of any spare change, I had not the least doubt; but I was 'green' enough to think that ray money would go as far as their tickets; and so the result proved ; I saved twelve shillings instead of losing, even if their tickets had proved genuine.
There was little to see on our passage up the Hudson, for though the storm, of which Br. Ballou complains, had subsided, yet it was cloudy, and consequently dark. It was also too cold to stay much on deck. But there were two incidents which occurred while 1 was on board the boat.which may serve to illustrate some lessons of prudence, such as every one requires sometimes, but by which many fail to profit. A young man came on board, left his baggage, paid his fare and secured his berth; but as the boat was not to leave immediately, he stepped on shore to transact some business, or speak with a friend;and before he returned the lines were cast off, and the steamer began to move out of the slip. He endeavored to get on board but it was too late. He ran the whole length of the dock, but it was all useless. When he saw that he could not attain his object, he turned with a saddened look of disappointment, in which every beholder seemed to sympathize. Would not this serve as matter for a chapter on earthly trials and vexations, as well as the necessity of punctuality, and attention to travelling while we are travelling?
The other incident is illustrative of the latter suggestion. There was on board a young aspirant for the honors of ' Old Yale,' or some other renowned institution, going to prepare for college, at some academy in the interior of the State. I remarked, when he retired, that he left his pants outside his berth. In the morning, after the boat had been at Albany some lime, as I was passing through the cabin for my valise, I observed young hopeful just crawling from his resting place, rubbing open bis eyes that he might distinguish more clearly. But he soon made a discovery which caused them to open readily. It was nothing less than this :— he had some thirty dollars in gold, loose in his pantaloons' pockets, on the night before ; but it would seem, that tired of this delay, they had gone on shore without him, having no doubt found a firmer friend, and one who appreciated their merits more correctly than himself. As the boat had not stopped on the way, there would have been a probability of his having found the runaways, had he arisen at the proper hour; but as it was, the chase was useless.— However, if this occurrence shall make him a a more prudent youth, or an earlier riser, it may yet prove more benefit to him than injury.
Of the remainder of the journey to Cooperstown, our kind reception there, and the proceedings of the Convention, there is no need of speaking now. But there are a few remarks in reference to such meetings in general, for which I shall probably find no more convenient place.
Generally the Committee for arranging public services should consider that they are appointed to accommodate those preachers who are most forward in offering their services ; and they should attend little to the dictation of their own judgments, or the wishes of the people.— To have relieved one anxious soul in the attainment of so cherished an object, should be deemed glory enough for one occasion. I would offer a suggestion of prudence to such of our brethren as should be placed upon committees to nominate a preacher for the Occasional Sermon, and delegates to attend the General Convention, &c, to take advantage of such appointment to bring themselves into notice. And a farther suggestion still, if brethren will permit: that they prepare for these occasions some 'crack' discourses, which having been preached many times, shall be perfectly familiar, and which shall cover all the ground possibly consistent with a systematic arrangement. By this course, those who are accustomed to hear 'every day preaching,' from 'every day men,' such as are obliged lo husband their resources to supply the people every Sabbath in the year, with something interesting and instructing, will be astonished at the display of gigantic genius, and be led to look down with regret upon some better, perhaps some abler, brother whom they have had the misfortune to engage as pastor. It strikes me that reflection on these subjects would prove beneficial, both to preachers and societies. I hope we may try it.
Sunday, June 4.—Preached at Albany.— There are good men and true in this Society; and though their former excellent pastor has lately left them, they continue strong in their faith, and in their purpose of sustaining the preached word. May the Lord send them another in whom they can unite, and who shall be instrumental in building them up in the truth and in a love of every good word and work!
Monday, June 5.—Left for Utica by railroad and packet. Rain in abundance—under hatches most of the day. I formed a travelling acquaintance with two young men, who were expressing their own and the public's obligations to the Washingtonians, for the reform and sobriety of so many of the hands employed on canals, steamboats, railroads, &c.— But I was surprized to find that these same young men could not go to bed without a 'drop of something to keep the cold out.' True friends of temperance they ! They would go total abstinence for the ' lower classes !' The time is fast coming when the fashionable ' nobility' of our land will prove the greatest nuisances to the traveller. And Washingtonians will lay him under renewed obligations when they shall have removed these.
Wednesday, June 7.—Left Utica, in company with the brethren there, to attend the Central Association at Morrisville. Passed through Now Hartford, Clinton, Branchville, Madison, &c. This is a beautiful country, but the roads were at this time most miserable. I have heard of wheels being buried in the mud to the hub, but I had never witnessed an occurrence of the kind until I had travelled in Madison county. Here this thing is no 'figure of speech,' but a serious reality. However, the roads soon become dry when the weather is favorable. Two dayg after, the mud had thickened to such consistency as to bear much of the way. At Madison our friends have a church, and preaching, I think, half the time. At Morrisville there is no church owned by the Universalists, and they have only occasional preaching, for which they obtain the Court House. The friends are few here, but zealous and hospitable. Two miles from this, in a northeasterly direction, there is pleasant little village called Pratt's Hollow. I slopped at this place several days, and shall not soon forget the kindness with which a stranger was entertained in a strange land. A few friends here secure occasional preaching in a commodious and quite convenient school house. I held forth Sunday evening, the 11th June, in it, to quite a respectable audience, and received most respectful attention to the word uttered. During the day, I had preached at Stockbridge.— Here they have a neat church, and had, considering the weather on that day, a good hearing. Br. D. S. Morey is located in this place; but on account of ill health, caused by too zealous efforts to do good, is desirous to suspend labor for the present.
Wednesday, June 14.—Went to Utica to attend the Washingtonian State Convention. But of the good things enjoyed here, I could not attempt a description short of several such pages as these. The true spirit of the gospel was there, and diffused its influence over a thousand hearts. The drunkard, and even the dealer, were reached, converted—held by its power. How beautifully do the Washingtonians demonstrate the value and efficiency of those principles which we have adopted theoretically, they practically!
On Friday left for Syracuse in a packet.— These are fine boats, and the travelling is cheap and pleasant. One dollar for 61 miles and they 'eat you,' and 'sleep you' into the bargain.— As regards the eating, there is 'no mistake'— every thing in the best order and of the beat kind, but the sleeping is a more questionable matter, especially if it be the first night. But a roan may get used to almost any thing, after a while, and being hung up on a hook will serve very well to rest those who are accustomed to it. There were some friends on board who were returning from the Convention, and we soon found one another out, as well as other Washingtonians. We commenced singing some praises of cold water, when we were joined on deck by a number of ladies, so that we formed quite a concert. The swells which occurred, sometimes in the middle of a strain, as we passed under some of the low bridges, our heads close to the decks, must have been peculiarly entrancing, had there been any to have listened, but as all our auditory were busy at that time in taking care of themselves, the probability is that the most effective portion of our performance was unappreciated.
An individual who had been in the cabin from the time of leaving Utica, came on deck just previous to our arriving at a bridge. He had walked to the bow of the boat and turned round, apparently surveying his fellow passengers, who crowded the more central portion, when the helmsman cries out 'bridge.' The preparation which the passengers made for doing homage to the above named object, only seemed to excite astonishment in the gentleman, who was evidently engaged in a revery. The cry was repeated by the passengers, but all to no purpose. There he stood, as immovable as Atlas of old, not expecting, however, to receive a world, or even a bridge, upon his shoulder. But the boat drew nearer and nearer ; some screamed, some laughed at the absent expression with which he regarded his kneeling companions, all trembled for his condition, but they were now too near, and going at too rapid a rate for any one to think of rising. A 'hand,' however, left the stern and ran to him, crying out, 'a bridge.' 'A what?' inquired the absent minded gentleman. 'A bridge.' 'Sir!' responded he of the stubborn will, and commenced looking listlessly around, when he struck the bridge with such force as to precipitate him into the canal, just giving his monitor sufficient time to prostrate himself and escape a similar fate. He was soon rescued from his unpleasant situation, and will be likely to understand hereafter, I think, that ominous sound so often heard on the canal, and be more humble for the future.
Syracuse is a thriving place, but its situation is low. Br. Grosh preaches here one half of the time. From this place to Skeneateles the scenery is enchanting, notwithstanding it is marred with innumerable salt works. Within about 8 miles of Auburn, there is a Branch Road to Skeneateles, with wooden rails and a horse locomotive. I entered the only car there was, with two or three other passengers, and our horse began to pull us up the hill. About two thirds of the distance to Skeneateles, there is a neat village called Mottville. The Universalists have a neat little church, which indeed is the only church in the village. There are a few zealous friends, who have had preaching one half the time. I preached to them Sunday, 18th. Attended temperance meetings on Saturday and Sunday evenings in the neighborhood, where quite a number of pledges were taken, and apparently much good done.
On Monday left for home, where I arrived Wednesday evening, having stopped a night at Albany, and one at Brooklyn. I experienced nothing during my absence from home, to change the current of good opinion I have been six years in forming of the Universalist public; but every thing to strengthen it. Our villifiers must have been acquainted with a very different class from those I have generally met, if they have even a tittle cloth from which to manufacture their stories.
On the whole, I think the cause of a world's salvation is steadily progressing in the central portion of our state. So far as I have seen and heard, liberality of thought and feeling are every where manifesting themselves ; and although times are hard, and business men embarrassed, so as to present no rapid increase in the means of societies, yet the path is being made straight, the way prepared in the popular mind for a great and enduring advancement.
J. K. Ingalls. Southold, L. I., June 30, 1843.
Source: Joshua King Ingalls, “Incidents by the Way,” Universalist Union 8, no. 35 (July 15, 1843): 557-559.